Trump VP contenders rush to his defense after guilty verdict

Lawmakers under consideration to join former President Trump on the Republican ticket in November rushed to his defense after a New York jury found him guilty on 34 felony counts in his hush money trial.

Trump’s allies and those jockeying for a spot on the ticket have for weeks echoed his criticisms of the case, with several potential vice presidential contenders appearing at the courthouse in support of the former president. Following the verdict Thursday, they unleashed attacks on the judge, the district attorney and the legal system.

“Today’s verdict shows how corrupt, rigged, and unAmerican the weaponized justice system has become under Joe Biden,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said in a statement. “I fully support President Trump appealing this decision and look forward to a higher New York Court to deliver justice and overturn this verdict.”

Stefanik echoed many of Trump’s own complaints about the trial, attacking the district attorney, the gag order that prevented Trump from attacking witnesses and court staff and painting the case as an effort to hinder Trump’s reelection bid.

“This Lawfare should scare every American,” North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) posted on the social platform X. “The American people will have their say in November.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called the verdict “a complete travesty that makes a mockery of our system of justice.”

Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio), another contender to be Trump’s vice president, called the verdict “a disgrace to the rule of law and our Constitution.”

“This isn’t justice, it’s election interference,” he posted on X.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who The New York Times reported is quickly rising in the ranks of potential Trump running mates, railed against the judge in the case in a post on X.

“The American people will see right through Joe Biden and the Democrats’ weaponization of the legal system,” he wrote.

Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records, making him the first former president to be convicted of a felony.

The 12-person jury in the hush money trial returned its verdict late Thursday afternoon after deliberations went for approximately 11 hours.

Trump was found guilty of counts that included general ledger entries in his business records that prosecutors said covered up repaying his then-attorney Michael Cohen, who paid porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged affair.

Trump has denied the affair and had pleaded not guilty. He is expected to appeal the verdict.

The judge has set a sentencing date of July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in which Trump is expected to be officially named the 2024 GOP nominee for president.

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